CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) soldiers came together to celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage month at Camp Bondsteel May 15.
The event was marked with speeches about Asian Pacific-Americans’ contributions to the United States and the American military, culminating with two dances by the KFOR Island Dancers.
Army Chap. (Capt.) Anthony Williams, of Mount Vernon, Ill., gave the invocation for the event and Army 2nd Lt. Jacob Barth, of Eastover, S.C., served as master of ceremonies.
Army Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann, of Bismarck, N.D., commanding general of Multinational Battle Group East, spoke about the importantance the Americans of Asian Pacific heritage have played in shaping the nation.
“Descendents of today’s Asian Pacific-Americans come from nearly 50 countries throughout the world’s largest continent in addition to land masses throughout the Pacific Rim, each with its distinct history, culture, traditions and values,” Dohrmann said. “With all these differences there is one thing that ties all of these groups together in American Society and that is military service.”
Army Lt. Col. Jose Ortiz, of Arlington, Va., was the guest speaker at the event. Ortiz is the flight surgeon for MNBG E’s Task Force Aviation. He spoke about his personal experiences as a Filipino-American in the U.S. military and the contributions of other Americans of Asian Pacific heritage.
Asian Pacific American Heritage month is celebrated during May because this particular month marks significant achievements in the cross-cultural unification of American society. In May 1843, the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the U.S., and the completion of the transcontinental railroad, largely through the efforts of Chinese immigrants, occurred in May, 1869.
“As we celebrate our rich tapestry of culture through events like Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, let us not forget that while we are a diverse nation, we are also a united one,” Dohrmann said. “Let us celebrate our differences but also appreciate our unification as a country founded on the belief that all are equal, and all are deserving of liberty and freedom.”
Multinational Battle Group East is a U.S.- led unit, commanded by Army Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann. This Battle Group is comprised of nearly 1,200 soldiers, including Task Force Hellas and Task Force POL/UKR (Polish/Ukraine) and Turkey. The charter mission of MNBG-E is maintaining a safe and secure environment and providing freedom of movement for the people in Kosovo.